Wealth is the sum of one’s loving relationships with people!
by Charlie Leck
Sometimes when I begin writing a blog, I do so with one or another of my regular readers in mind. I don’t know why! It just sometimes happens. As I typed out today’s thoughts, a local councilwomen, who flatters me by being such a faithful reader, was firmly in my thoughts. I’m about to introduce you to someone with whom I think the Councilwoman would be very comfortable.
I was motivated by one of my favorite bloggers (David Williams at Van Peeples Land) to learn more about Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. David led me to one of the Archbishop’s sermons. I was fascinated by it. The remarkable blogger also provided a lovely poem by the Archbishop.
He will come like last leaf’s fall
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to bone
and earth wakes choking on the mould
the soft shroud’s folding
The good Archbishop is following the Wall Street Occupiers attentively. A New York Times article by Paul Vitello explains that the clergyman thinks there is confusion about wealth – some think “money is equated with wealth.”
A terrible misunderstanding.
Money is not wealth, Williams tells us. Wealth, Rowan Williams insists, “is the sum of one’s loving relationships with people.”
I like that! I don’t think it will make sense to greedy people – the people, the Archbishop says “see the world in terms of themselves.” They won’t understand it even if they get hit over the head with it, but I think it touches truth very deeply and sensitively.
I’m terribly interested in Rowan Williams. I have a grandson named Rowan. “Odd name,” I thought when my daughter informed me what we would call my first grandson. A pretty name, but odd!
Then I began reading about this brilliant theologian and pastor with the same name as my grandson – Rowan. I began to devour information about the Archbishop. I read one of his sermons – and then another.
The New York Times article says that Susan Lee, an economist, doesn’t think that theologians get it. She says this in reaction to some of Rowan’s comments:
“They assume that there can be profit without private property, work without incentive, enterprise without income inequality.”
Oh, balderdash! The Archbishop gets it all right. He just knows there are several different ways to see the world (see sermon explained below).
Archbishop Rowan Williams is ten years younger than I. He’s from Wales. He studied at Christ’s College in Cambridge and received a doctorate in philosophy from Oxford (Wadham College). He’s taught theology for many, many years. He is fluent in reading-and-or speaking 11 languages. He’s more a teacher than a pastor (though there are plenty of people who would disagree with me on that).
The Archbishop of Canterbury gives off the impression that he is very liberal. Indeed and in fact, he is not. When he talks about the resurrection and the empty tomb, he is not speaking allegorically or mythologically – he means it literally! It’s obviously where he and I part.
I will keep my eye on this fellow named Rowan and read a bit more about him and listen to a few more of his sermons. If you’d like to listen to one of his Advent sermons, you can do so here.
“The diabolical way of seeing things is to see the world in terms of you!”
“…Yet, again and again we insist on seeing it (the world) in terms of ourselves.”
“…Our human way of seeing and knowing things has to be more and more peeled away from that temptation to the diabolical – more and more aligned with the angelic way of seeing things… look at the world and see it pregnant with God… that this is something you will never contain or control… all you can do is open your eyes, draw in your breath and receive what is to be received and step forward.”
“…And at the end of that four week journey (Advent), what happens? We’re faced with the greatest, most shocking paradox of all. The power, the love and the energy that made and sustains the universe – speechless, helpless, cold, homeless, a baby!
The man has a marvelous voice and a magical way of delivering his words. He’s very easy to listen to, in other words.
And, anyone named Rowan must be a pretty neat guy. Right, Grandson?
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